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Ethical Review Guidelines

This is an overview for the uses of APHD students. For a thorough explanation of the process go to: http://www.research.utoronto.ca/for-researchers-administrators/ethics/


research study


The ethical review process is designed to ensure that data collection procedures conform to current ethical standards. Generally, an ethical review is required whenever a study involves data from or on human subjects; however, a student’s research may be exempt from ethical review if it involves work that has already been approved by a University of Toronto Research Ethics Board (REB), for example as part of the supervisor’s research program.

When it is determined that an ethical review is required, the investigator completes a set of standard forms, which describe the relevant aspects of the proposed research study. If an ethical review is required, a research study cannot begin until final, written approval is obtained from the REB.

Research that does not require an ethical review must still undergo an administrative review.
How long it will take the Office of Research Ethics to review your application depends on whether your research requires a full or expedited review.

Please note that all theses, Research Papers (MRP and QRP), and class research projects involving human subjects must receive approval from the Research Oversight and Compliance Office (ROCO), formerly known as Office of Research Ethics (ORE) Projects will either qualify for delegated or full review.

Research has been defined as activities “which involve a systematic investigation to establish facts, principles or generalized knowledge.” (Tri-Council Policy Statement, Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, 1998, page 1.1)

No process for data collection, including recruitment or scheduling of appointments, can occur before receiving the final approval from the Research Oversight and Compliance Office (ROCO). Be sure to check the informed consent requirements and other research ethics related policies and guidelines on the ROCO website before writing your consent document.

Visit the Research Oversight and Compliance Office (ROCO) webpage for application forms, deadlines, and an introduction to the ethical review process and application procedures. You can also look at ROCO’s FAQs.

1. Supervisor's Signature

In preparing the materials, work closely with your research thesis supervisor to complete the Protocol Submission Form. Your thesis supervisor is ultimately responsible to assist you in the ethics review process and all student research must be reviewed and approved by the faculty supervisor. Be sure to include all appendices, such as recruitment letters, consent forms, and surveys.

2. Department Designate Signature

After your supervisor has signed off on your Protocol Submission Form, make an appointment with your Graduate Program Liaison Officer. In-person meetings are best. The submission will be reviewed looking particularly closely at issues of informed consent. It is best to book an appointment well in advance of the submission deadline date to the ROCO. This will provide enough time to make any revisions necessary.

3. Submission Deadlines at the Research Oversight and Compliance Office

For DELEGATED reviews (i.e. non-vulnerable research populations), the application deadline at the ROCO is every Monday by 4:00 pm to appear on the agenda for the weekly Thursday review meeting.

For FULL reviews (i.e. vulnerable research populations), please note the submissions dates for FULL reviews.

Submission Procedure:

The Research Oversight and Compliance Office (ROCO) has moved to an electronic submission for all ethics review of human research applications.

As per the Memorandum on Submission Procedures for Human  Ethics Review Applications issued by the Office of the Vice President, Research:

“Protocols submitted for delegated or full review, to Health Sciences, Social Sciences, Humanities and Education or HIV Research Ethics Boards, should be emailed to new.ethics.protocols@utoronto.ca as a single .doc or .pdf attachment, with appendices pasted in at the end of the form. Electronic or scanned signatures are accepted. Where such signatures are not available, please submit the email using the principal investigator’s e-mail account or explain why these options are not available so that an alternate arrangement can be made. All submissions should be made through a University of Toronto e-mail account, to ensure that data security measures are utilized.  As of January 1, 2011 hardcopy submissions will no longer be processed.”

All other submissions which are not new (e.g., revisions and annual renewal form), as well as general inquiries should be sent to ethics.review@utoronto.ca

For contact information:

Research Oversight and Compliance Office (ROCO)
McMurrich Building, 2nd Floor
12 Queen's Park Crescent West
University of Toronto
Toronto, ON M5S 1A1a

5. Notification of Review

Approximately 3-4 weeks after your submission, the ROCO will notify you by email about the decisions of the committee regarding your submission. It is possible that further clarification / revisions will be requested. These changes can be emailed to the ROCO as per their instructions.

Your supervisor will be copied on your approval notice. However, it is your responsibility to notify the department of the approval so it can be indicated on your student record.

Helpful Hints

  • Once the ethics protocol leaves the department, we do not have authority over the approval process. Please contact the ROCO at 416-946-3273 or ethics.review@utoronto.ca

  • Pay attention to all dates, especially for FULL reviews.

  • Answer every question on the protocol form. Indicate 'N/A' for Not Applicable.

  • Attach all the relevant appendices, such as all invitation letters and consent forms, and copies of survey instruments.

  • Make sure the protocol form is signed by your supervisor and Graduate Program Liaison, on behalf of the dept. Chair.

  • Make sure you have the most current forms and instructions.